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Nike Waffle Racer 😋 the only thing missing is the icing sugar

August 5, 2021 4:00 PM
Nike Waffle Racer 😋 the only thing missing is the icing sugar

Take soft butter, sugar, eggs, flour, salt, baking powder and milk and mix everything into a smooth batter. Then grease your iron and pour the batter evenly into it. Let the wonderful smell tell you: your waffle will soon be ready! But - what do we smell? Not sweet vanilla but dry tartan and rubber. You haven't suddenly landed on the wrong page, dear sneakerjagers, but just in the right place. Today we're talking about Bill Bowerman's innovation from the 70s: the Nike Waffle Racer.

The unconventional running shoe solution

In the early 1970s, Hayward Field in Oregon was converted from a cinder track to an artificial surface. This meant a new standard for the shoes of the 'Blue Ribbon' brand, founded by Bill Bowerman and better known to us today as Nike.

Bowerman actually experimented with a waffle iron for a new shoe. His wife Barbara later told The Oregonian newspaper:

"When one of the waffles came out, he said, 'You know, if you turn it upside down - where the waffle part is in contact with the track - that might work.' So he got up from the table, went to his lab and got two cans of whatever you pour together to make the urethane and poured them into the waffle iron. "The end product was a running shoe without heavy spikes.

Barbara Bowerman

Bill was constantly working to change and redefine the status quo of his running equipment. His eureka moment was the Waffle Sneaker, which was successfully launched in 1973. The shoe is responsive and adapts to uneven running surfaces. It also helped spread the idea that not only the midsole but also the outsole can absorb shock.

Previously, many track and field soles were flat and low to the ground, but the waffle-inspired sole had small ridges that provided extra support and rebound. This was the first major innovation from a company that later revolutionised the sneaker industry with inventions such as Visible Air, Flyknit, Lunarlon and others.

Nike Waffle Racer - Oregon Waffle Racer Artikel
Anzeige in Runner's World für den neuen Nike Waffe Racer im Dezember '73

The first Nike Waffle Racer

Priced between $21.95 and $24.95, the running shoe, originally made in Japan, had a nylon upper and was first released in a red and white colour scheme. However, the version that quickly became popular with local athletes bore the distinctive yellow and green design of the University of Oregon, while later models also bore the colours of other Californian colleges, such as UCLA.

The first campaigns for the Waffle Sneaker were launched with slogans like "Made Famous by Word of Foot Advertising" (Made famous by advertising with the foot) touted: "You've seen them on training tracks and fields all over the country. You know them for their quality, their light weight, and long life."

Later, canvas versions were launched, as well as a women's version and a slightly revised and more expensive version called the Waffle Racer, which was launched around 1977 and cost around $30. The Racer kept the design DNA of the shoe alive and well, with the added benefit of a lightweight EVA midsole and a wider, slightly more stable design.

Nike Waffle Racer

Over the course of time, the original waffle sole has been used in a variety of Nike products, for example, in tailwinds and even in shoes for American football.

No one really paid attention to the famous waffle iron itself until an old device was unearthed near a house in Coburg, Oregon. That's where former Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman lived. The wife of Bill's son Jon Bowerman discovered it by chance, along with shoe treads that Bill himself had still made.

So Nike's Holy Grail had been rediscovered and is now on display at the company's headquarters in Beaverton. Nike historian Scott Reames said of the discovery: "It truly is the headwaters of our innovation. From a historian's standpoint, it's like finding the Titanic."

The Nike Waffle Racer today

Today, the Waffle Racer still impresses with its simple elegance and timeless design:

The Nike Waffle Racer is also available in a sustainable version. The Nike Waffle Racer Crater comes with an upper made from recycled polyester and a comfortable midsole. The midsole consists of at least 11% Nike Grind Rubber and is made from old shoe soles.

The outsole here extends over the entire length of the shoe and also encloses the heel at the top. It also contains at least 15% Nike Grind Rubber material and of course still the waffle tread.

Off-White X Nike Waffle Racer SP

In December 2019, the Nike and Off-White founder Virgil Abloh released the Nike x Off-White Waffle Racer SP as part of the "Athlete in Progress" collection.

Off-White X Nike Waffle Racer

Social Status x Nike Waffle One

Nike commissioned Social Status and the Whitaker Group to introduce a completely new silhouette. The shoe was limited to 500 pairs, so unfortunately it is no longer available in this colorway. But keep scrolling to see some of the variants you can still buy.

Social Status x Nike Waffle One

Sacai X Nike VaporWaffle

The Nike Waffle Racer was most recently the talk of the town as the VaporWaffle and in collaboration with Sacai. The modelable founded by Chitose Abe has already been responsible for the successful and unusual models.

These two colorways were only launched in April 2021. The design of the VaporWaffle has been slightly reworked: the nylon replaced the mesh used previously. Leather and suede overlays also complement the design.

Sacai X Nike VaporWaffle
End Clothing

We're also expecting the Sacai X Nike VaporWaffle 'Sail' in 2021, so be sure to get our free app so you don't forget this hot drop.